Guest Post – 14 Manuscript-Formatting Tips for Writers and Poets – Kathy Steinemann

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14 Manuscript-Formatting Tips for Writers and Poets

Don’t press the Publish button until you read this post.

Whether you self-publish or work with a traditional publisher, you should perform a thorough check for hidden codes that might hinder your book’s conversion.

Even if you’re not at the publishing stage, a professional-looking document will impress agents and slush readers. A haphazard mess will have them reaching for antacids.

Save yourself the embarrassment.

This article discusses a few common formatting blunders and how to fix them in Microsoft Word. If you prefer a different word processor, you can still use the information here to isolate the same problems in your software.

Before we begin, open your WIP in Word.

You’ll need to activate the function that allows you to see paragraph marks and other invisible symbols:

Navigate to the Home tab of Word and press the ¶ icon.

Tip #1: Never copy and paste from a website.

If you’ve already done this, you might be in for a bumpy ride.

And I’m not talking about legal issues if you’ve hijacked information from internet pages. You’d never do that, right?

No matter what you copy online, you could pick up weird spacing, tables, headings, undesired page breaks, non-standard colors and font sizes, tabs, highlighting, special characters, et al. These unexpected anomalies could prevent conversion to eBook format.

Tip #2: Select a standard font such as Times New Roman or Cambria.

Comic Sans MS won’t impress an agent or an editor. But if you’re self-publishing a printed children’s book, go for it.

Tip #3: Avoid tables.

Some eBook aggregators or programs won’t accept tables, or they do a sloppy conversion job. If you need a table, one option is to produce a graphic instead. It’s beyond the scope of a short article to explain the mechanics, but for guidance, you can search online for how to take a screenshot.

Tip #4: Remove non-breaking spaces.

These spaces, which require a Ctrl-Shift-Space key sequence in Word, mysteriously appear in some documents and will make them fail EPUBCheck validation.

Non-breaking spaces create sentences that look like this:

The°quick°red°fox°jumps°over°the°lazy°brown°dog.

instead of this:

The·quick·red·fox·jumps·over·the·lazy·brown·dog.

To replace them:

Search for [space]
Replace with [space]

Word is smart enough to replace all spaces, including non-breaking spaces, with regular ones.

Tip #5: Eliminate double returns after paragraphs.

Do you see something like the following in your manuscript?

The quick red fox.¶

Tsk, tsk. That’s what styles are for.

Search for ^p^p
Replace with ^p

If you want extra room after each paragraph, access the style you need to change and modify its spacing:

Modify -> Format -> Paragraph -> Spacing: After

Not sure how to use Word styles?

Microsoft provides how-tos for several versions of Word at the following link:

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/customize-or-create-new-styles-in-word-d38d6e47-f6fc-48eb-a607-1eb120dec563

Tip #6: Delete linefeeds, and replace them with paragraph returns.

Linefeeds eliminate extra spacing between paragraphs. They’re produced with Shift-Enter, and are helpful when writing articles for blogs. This post contains a few, because they work well in WordPress. However, they don’t belong in manuscripts.

Word expects all text joined by linefeeds to be part of the same style. An added annoyance: They hinder edits to hyperlinks and bookmarks.

Search for ^l
Replace with ^p

[That’s ^ell, not ^one.]

Tip #7: Replace double spaces with single spaces.

Double spaces between words were the norm when everyone created manuscripts on typewriters. Nowadays they’re unnecessary, and they can cause spacing anomalies.

For instance, if a line break occurs in the middle of a double space, you’ll end up with a single space at the end of the first line and another single space at the beginning of the next. Given the number of double spaces that would occur in a typical manuscript, the probability of several such anomalies is close to 100%.

Search for [space][space]
Replace with [space]

Tip #8: Remove extraneous spaces at the end and beginning of paragraphs.

No matter how careful you are, these spaces appear as you write and revise. They’re easy to replace.

Search for [space]^p
Replace with ^p

and then

Search for ^p[space]
Replace with ^p

Tip #9: Edit apostrophes that face the wrong way.

Consider this sentence:

“But I don’t trust ‘im,” he said.

Note the punctuation that replaces the missing h at the beginning of ‘im. It looks like a quotation mark.

Here’s how you would fix it. Type:

[h][i][m][cursor left x 2][‘][cursor left][backspace][cursor right x 3]

This is an excellent reason to avoid words that drop initial letters.

Instead of: ’E’s doing it again.

Try: He’s doin’ it again.

Instead of: He’s going with ’em.

Try: He’s goin’ with them.

Instead of: I’m not against ’t, honest.

Try: I’m not agin it, honest.

Plan your dialect before you write your story, and keep a file with the quirks for each person. Characters should have unique speech characteristics that enable readers to differentiate them, but the dialogue should be easy to read.

Tip #10: Replace tabs.

Search for ^t
Replace with [nothing]

Tabs don’t belong in a manuscript. Neither do multiple spaces. If you want to indent the beginning of each paragraph, set up a style for that.

Indented paragraphs function well for novels.

Block-formatted paragraphs work better for books such as cookbooks and instructional manuals, where special formatting like bulleted lists, block indents, and hanging indents often appear.

Tip #11: If you’re preparing your document for eBook conversion, find and replace these codes with [nothing]:

^b (section break)

^m (manual page break)

Tip #12: Never do this.

Do you remember the tip about double returns after paragraphs?

Here’s a practice that’s even worse: multiple presses of the Enter key to reach the top of a new page, to insert a blank page, or to set up for a section break.

In eBooks, free-flowing text, font changes by readers, and varying screen sizes will transform extra lines into a mess. You might get away with it in a paperback or hardcover edition, but a minor edit before you print could alter your paging and introduce other glitches.

Instead, on the Insert tab, select:

Pages -> Blank Page

or

Pages -> Page Break

Tip #13: Search and replace cautiously.

Why?

Consider the following, for example. Sometimes authors want to replace all ‘s (straight quotes) with ‘s (curly quotes). This is how they do it:

Search for ‘
Replace with ‘

However, when they do this, all words such as ’e’s, ’em, and ’t end up with apostrophes that face the wrong way.

Can you imagine the time-consuming mess you’ll have to clean up afterward?

Always, and I repeat, always double check your entire document after performing blanket search-and-replace operations. Yes, it takes time, but quality is worth the effort.

Tip #14: When all else fails …

Are you receiving obscure errors from EPUBCheck or your book aggregator’s conversion process?

If you can’t locate the problems via Word’s Find function, you might have to:

  1. Copy the text from your manuscript into a text file.
  2. Begin a new manuscript.
  3. Select the contents of the text file, copy, and then paste into the new manuscript. This removes all formatting.
  4. Start at the beginning and reformat the @#$%&! thing.

Imagine how long that will take. The painless approach would be to avoid the errors in the first place.

A program like Jutoh, which contains EPUBCheck and works well in tandem with Calibre, provides meaningful errors. Jutoh also allows direct edits, saves your project, and converts to multiple file formats.

Don’t give up if you experience formatting difficulties.

And remember: Today’s words are tomorrow’s legacy. Keep writing.

© Kathy Steinemann

Kathy Steinemann, Grandma Birdie to her grandkids, is a parrot-loving grandma involved in a passionate affair with words, especially when the words are frightening or futuristic or funny.

As a child, she scribbled prose and poetry, and won public-speaking and writing awards. As an adult, she worked as a small-town paper editor, and taught a couple of college courses. She has won or placed in multiple short fiction contests.

If you were to follow her around for a day, you might see her wince when a character on TV says “lay” instead of “lie” or when a social media post confuses “your” with “you’re.” And please don’t get her started on gratuitous apostrophes in pluralized words.

Her popular books in The Writer’s Lexicon series are touted by writers as “phenomenal,” a “secret weapon,” and “better than a thesaurus.”

You’ll find her at KathySteinemann.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

kathy-510x510-alex.jpg

 

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Sunday Surprise

Here’s the latest #Eclectica interview

Barbara G.Tarn - writer

And it’s the last guest for now. Another Eclectica Bundle author to close this series up for the summer. Hopefully more guests will show up in September. Meanwhile, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Diana Deverell!

Where do you live and write from?

I live on a hilltop in the Danish village where my husband was born. The window in my writing space overlooks Helnaes Bay and the Jutland peninsula is on the horizon. Because of the perverse nature of my creative process, I don’t stare at that view for inspiration.

The story I want to tell never seems to take place where I actually am. Some scenes in my international thriller, Night on Fire, are set in this village but I lived in Oregon when I wrote them.

Now, I’m in Denmark and the legal thriller I just finished happens in the landlocked cities of Eastern Oregon and Washington…

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D-Day 75

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#DDay75 #NeverForget
I was talking to an elderly ex-veteran at the British Legion Care Home my father resides it. He asked me what I thought of the commemorations planned for D-Day 75. Was it important to still mark these days, and why?
I responded that such landmark events should be remembered and praised by the younger generations – for without the courage of my new friend and his comrades we would probably not know or enjoy the freedom we do today. Europe was markedly changed as a result of World War 2 – maybe even the whole world. Imagine Europe if the likes of Hitler had won – tyranny, racism, hatred, oppression. It would have been Orwell’s nightmare.
It’s difficult for someone who has (fortunately) grown up in a liberal country, where for the most part people are free, and the government – despite its faults – could be SO much worse.
Distant though it is to us now – this incredible, courageous, miraculous battle should be enshrined in our history for all time.
Warrior panorama
***
75 years ago tens of thousands of troops, and months of planning strove to free Nazi-occupied France from the terrible jackboot of tyranny. In the largest seaborne invasion in history men, machines and miracles fought to bring us freedom, and bring an end to the Second World War. Many died, and those who survived were forever touched by their experiences. Not many of those who fought on those beaches are still with us – the veterans number barely a few hundred – and those who do remain are unlikely to see many more of these commemorations.
Freedom does not come easy, or cheaply. I think many of us alive today – my generation and the generation after me have little concept of what it was like in those terrible years. We take freedom as a given. Most of us (fortunately) have never seen military action, and those who continue to serve do so largely remote from our homeland – maintaining freedom for others.
To those brave men and women who took part in D-Day, and, indeed, those who serve and have served to bring freedom where there is none Thank You. You will not be, and should not be forgotten.
D-Day landings:

  • 156,000 allied troops landed in Normandy, across
  • beaches
  • 7,000 ships and landing craft involved and 10,000 vehicles
  • 4,400 from the combined allied forces died on the day
  • 4,000 – 9,000German casualties
  • Thousands of French civilians also died

NN Light’s June Giveaway

Having a hard time choosing what to read in 2019? While there’s so many wonderful authors and books available, it’s imperative to have a dependable and responsible place that can help you choose what to read. It’s even better when you get a chance to win free books! Every month, you can win free books from multiple authors hosted by N. N. Light’s Book Heaven. Numerous authors are offering their books in this collaborative group entitled Literary Giveaway Portal. The best part is they’re all screened and approved by N. N. Light, a top reviewer.

 

Beach Blanket Book Giveaway: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775030

 

Literary Giveaway Portal:  https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/literary-giveaway-portalJune Giveaway Graphic 1.jpg

New Release – The Last Forest – Short Story

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I am pleased to announce the release of my latest short story:

The Last Forest

#Darkfantasy #shortstory #nature

When humans come to fell the last forest, they are in for a surprise.
A short dark fantasy tale of the wrath of nature.
Approx 2500 words.

Universal Link

Available as an e-book in all the major e-book stores.

Last forest cover.jpg

Celebrate Audiobook Month – June 2019

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Head over to Celebrating Audiobooks Month, grab some new titles and see what your favourite indie authors have to offer. (Including two of mine.)

Links will be on NNLight’s Book Heaven but some of the authors involved are:

1- Sharon Buchbinder

2- MK McClintock, Laura Strickland

3- Peggy Jaeger, Judith Sterling

4- Lin Wilder

5- Christine Grabowski

6- Sharon Buchbinder, Stephen King

7- Nicky Blue, Lisa Lickel

8- A. L. Butcher

9- Mary Morgan

10- Peggy Jaeger, Laura M. Baird

11- Aubrey Wynne

12- Kimberly Dean

13- Sharon Buchbinder, Lisa Lickel

14- M. S. Spencer

15- Jean M. Grant, Jana Reynolds

16- Aubrey Wynne

17- Peggy Jaeger, Judith Sterling

18- A. L. Butcher

19- P. L. Parker

20- Sharon Buchbinder

21- Jana Reynolds

22- M. S. Spencer

23- Sharon Buchbinder

24- Peggy Jaeger, Mary Morgan

25- Aubrey Wynne

26- MK McClintock, Catherine Mesick

27- Sharon Buchbinder, Judith Sterling

28- Lisa Lickel

29- Stephen King

30- Peggy Jaeger

The Hypnotist’s Assistant Richard DeVall- Blog Tour

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The Hypnotist’s Assistant
by Richard DeVall
Genre: Coming of Age

When 13 year old Gary Crockett hypnotizes Earl Lancaster and Earl stands
from his wheelchair everything changes for both of them. Gary
suspects Earl of lying about his paralysis and Gary’s mom thinks
Earl is sexy and a business genius. Before long all three need to
leave town in a hurry.

 

This coming of age tale is full of surprises and quirky characters,
twisted circumstances and weird resolutions. It’s a breezy look at
race relations, ladyboys, virginity, snake biting churches and meditation.

The novel is a one day read and sprinkled with humor.

The Hypnotist’s Assistant explores healing, romance, religion, deception,
dysfunction, inspiration, gender, addiction and loss.

What begins as an extraordinary event ends with new found love, true
friendship and hope. Bottom line – this book ultimately does what
books do, it brings the reader entertainment and escape.

**Only .99 cents or FREE May 22nd – 26th!!**
Richard DeVall was born in Virginia near the Washington D.C. border. He
worked as a 1st Class Steam Engineer in D.C. and then became a class
A General Contractor. He now lives in Richmond Virginia where he’s
retired and fulfilling a lifetime dream of publishing books. He like
books of all flavors and is always working on at least two novels at
any given time.

 

Brief Guest Post from Richard DeVall:

I hear music type people refer to digital music as cold, vinyl as being warm and tapes having depth. I wouldn’t have a clue. What I’m going to mention is the differences in perceptions of Audio, electronic and paperback books.

Audio is great for busy hands. It lacks intimacy in the area of pause and reflection. That’s because it’s a pace car that’s moving at a constant speed forward. It’s great for folks on the go. It’s actually a book on the go.

Kindle – Nook – Kobo – phone – tablet and desktop reading. I find the difference between those forms of reading and paperback almost, but not quite the same. The difference is familiarity. A book is a little warmer, like meatloaf and potatoes versus a grilled cheese sandwich, a cold pickle and soup.

Follow the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

 

Sunday Surprise

Here’s another Eclectica interviewee.

Barbara G.Tarn - writer

And it’s another Eclectica author! I met her and she’s the sweetest girl in the universe! 🙂 Can’t believe it’s been two years already since… And she was even in Nightly Bites Volume 2! Anyhow, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Felicia Fredlund!

Where do you live and write from?

I currently live in Japan, Kyoto to be more exact. This is also where I write, usually in my apartment.

Why do you write?

I write because I want to experience different kinds of lives. And I would love to live in a mystical world with magic, but alas, that isn’t possible, so I’ll do it through writing.

When did you start writing?

Somewhere in my teens. I was a bit late to reading, only starting to love it when I was about 11 years old, and then I needed a few more years to fall in love with writing.

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Review – City of Sin: London and its Vices

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Review – City of Sin: London and its Vices

https://www.amazon.co.uk/City-Sin-London-its-Vices-ebook/dp/B003M69WY4/

 

From the first unfortunate shivering Roman slaves on the banks of the Thames two thousand years ago to modern vice this book covers the history of vice and the sex industry. Discussing the rise and fall of bawdy houses, the city’s attempts to regulate brothels and prostitution, the differing classes of sex workers throughout the time period, and how they were seen. There are comparisons of royal mistresses such as Nell Gwyn and the Countess of Castlemaine, to the sad, short and dangerous lives of street whores. And to cover the more modern cases – the Profumo affair and the repercussions thereof. When men (mostly) of power get their friskies beyond the marriage bed the women concerned can have influence, blackmail the men, and bring government and even monarchy into disrepute. But prostitution and adultery are hardly new.

Not all the accounts are tales of woe – some tell of successful women (mostly women), who left ‘the oldest profession in the world’ rich, and lived to old age; there are some accounts of women who voluntarily became courtesans – having more freedom than their married sisters (although less security). Of course, there were many (and some were young) forced into ‘the trade’ and who died in poverty, shame, riddled with disease and often took their own lives. Male brothels or ‘molly houses’ and homosexual encounters are discussed, with an interesting account of the Cleveland Street scandal and the trial of Oscar Wilder.

Overall the book is interesting and contains a varied set of accounts – but is a little flippant in places.

A useful summary of the times and lives of women (and men) of the street and houses of ‘ill-fame’ from the tragic to the darkly amusing. Not for the prudish!